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Five recipes for tomato obsessed cooks – Tricks and Tips

Five recipes for tomato obsessed cooks

I’m in full tomato mode, a phrase I saw tweeted this week by the excellent food reporter Chris Crowley that tracks closely with my current state of mind.

I’m going wild at the market, buying all manner of tomatoes, arranging them on my counter with reverence and then eating them as though I’ve joined a religious order devoted to this one particular, highly seasonal food.

I make Caprese salad, corn and tomato salad, salad-e Shirazi, pasta with marinated tomatoes, tomato sandwiches fortified with a thick layer of mayo.

I saw that Ina Garten posted a tomato salad with blue cheese on Instagram, a combination that I haven’t had in a long time and one I’ll try this week. (She said she buys a rotisserie chicken to go with it, and dinner is ready. If Ina does it, so should you.)

I’ll also be making sauce moyo to have with grilled fish. And gazpacho. And tomato tart, and paneer con tomate. I am a tomato monster. I will not be stopped.

Cold noodles with tomatoes

Halved cherry tomatoes provide a strong flavour foundation for this cold noodle dish

(Getty/iStock)

Halved cherry tomatoes provide a strong flavour foundation for this cold noodle dish that’s at once savoury like gazpacho and refreshingly satiating like naengmyeon, the chilled Korean noodle soup. Inspired, too, by oi naengguk, a hydrating cold cucumber soup, this dish leans into the wonders of ripe tomatoes and lets you taste them as they are: raw and juicy. Julienned cucumber would taste wonderful here, as would supple poached prawns or halved hard-boiled eggs.

By: Eric Kim

Serves: 4 to 6

Total time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

680g ripe cherry tomatoes, halved

2 tsp salt

12 to 14 ounces somyeon, somen, capellini or other thin wheat noodle

¼ cup rice vinegar

2 tbsp soy sauce

2 tbsp sugar

1 large garlic clove, finely grated

½ tsp Dijon mustard

½ tsp toasted sesame oil

480ml cold filtered water

1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

2 radishes, thinly sliced

2 spring onions, thinly sliced at an angle

2 cups crushed or cubed ice

Method:

1. In a large bowl, toss together the tomatoes and salt. Let sit until juicy, about 10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook the noodles according to package instructions, drain and rinse under cold water. Set aside.

3. Add the vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, garlic, mustard and sesame oil to the tomatoes, and toss with a spoon until well combined. Stir the filtered water into the tomatoes and sprinkle the surface of the broth with the sesame seeds, radishes and spring onions.

4. Right before serving, add the ice to the broth. Divide the noodles among bowls, and ladle in the broth and any unmelted ice, making sure each serving gets a nice sprinkling of tomatoes, radishes, spring onions and sesame seeds.

Baked Greek prawns with tomatoes and feta

This traditional Greek recipe disregards the notion that seafood and cheese don’t mix, and it works beautifully, resulting in a harmonious balance of flavours. Though it can be made year round with tinned tomatoes, it is sensational with fresh sweet ripe ones, so best prepared in summer. Serve it as a main course with rice or potatoes, or in small portions as an appetiser, taverna-style.

By: David Tanis

Serves: 4 to 6

Total time: 45 minutes

Ingredients:

Extra-virgin olive oil

3 large shallots, diced

4 garlic cloves, minced

Salt and pepper

900g large ripe tomatoes

½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes

680g large prawns, peeled and deveined

115g Greek feta cheese

½ tsp dried oregano

2 tbsp roughly chopped mint

Method:

1. Put 4 tbsp olive oil in a wide frying pan over medium heat. Add shallots and garlic, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 to 8 minutes. Lower heat as necessary to keep mixture from browning. Remove from heat while preparing tomatoes.

2. Fill a saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Add whole tomatoes and cook for about 2 minutes, until skins loosen. Immediately plunge tomatoes in a bowl of cold water to cool, then drain. With a paring knife, core tomatoes and slip off skins. Cut tomatoes into thick wedges.

3. Heat oven to 200C. Return pan to stove over medium-high heat. Add tomato wedges and season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring, until mixture is juicy and tomatoes have softened, about 10 minutes. Transfer mixture to a shallow earthenware baking dish.

4. Put prawns in a mixing bowl. Add 1 tbsp olive oil, season prawns with salt and pepper and stir to coat. Arrange prawns over tomato mixture in one layer. Crumble cheese over surface and sprinkle with oregano.

5. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until tomatoes are bubbling and cheese has browned slightly. Remove from oven and let dish rest for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with mint and serve.

Tomato salad with chickpeas and feta

Peak summer eating doesn’t get much easier than this fresh tomato salad

(Getty/iStock)

Peak summer eating doesn’t get much easier than this fresh tomato salad. Ripe, in-season tomatoes are best, but if they are not in their prime, the simple technique of salting them first will draw out maximum flavour. Roasted nuts and seeds are excellent pantry items and make a perfect no-cook, savoury-sweet crisp topping. The nut-seed-spice mixture is completely flexible; use what you have on hand, and add aromatic seeds like nigella or fennel if you like. The supermarket-bought granola is optional, but it adds a surprising sweetness and even more crunch (opt for one that is as plain as possible and without dried fruits or chocolate). Make extra topping and keep it in an airtight jar for sprinkling over salads and roasted vegetables.

By: Hetty McKinnon

Serves: 4

Total time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

For the salad:

1.13kg ripe tomatoes (any variety), cut into roughly 2½-5cm pieces

1 garlic clove, grated

1½ tsp salt

1 (425g) tin chickpeas, drained

1 (200g) block feta cheese, crumbled

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to taste

¼ tsp black pepper

Handful of basil leaves

For the crisp topping:

40g roasted, salted shelled sunflower seeds, roughly chopped (see tip)

30groasted, salted pepitas, roughly chopped

40g roasted, salted almonds, roughly chopped

40g roasted, salted pistachios, roughly chopped

25g plain oat granola (no fruit or chocolate added), roughly chopped (optional)

1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

¼ to ½ tsp chilli powder or red-pepper flakes

½ tsp salt

Black pepper

Method:

1. Place tomatoes into a large bowl and add the garlic and 1 tsp salt. Using your hands or a large spoon, gently toss the tomatoes so that everything is evenly coated. Let the tomatoes sit for about 10 minutes (the salt will draw out flavour from the tomatoes).

2. Meanwhile make the topping: combine the sunflower seeds, pepitas, almonds, pistachios, granola if using, sesame seeds, chilli powder and salt. Toss to combine. Season with a few turns of black pepper and stir everything together.

3. Add the chickpeas, feta, olive oil, ½ tsp salt and black pepper to the tomatoes and toss to combine. Taste and adjust olive oil, salt and pepper to your liking. Tear up basil leaves and sprinkle on top.

4. To serve, transfer tomatoes to a serving platter or individual bowls. When you are ready to eat, sprinkle with the crisp topping.

Tip: You can use unsalted roasted nuts and seeds, but you’ll need to add more salt to the mixture.

Parmesan chicken breast with tomato and herb salad

For better weeknight chicken, dredge it in flour loaded with freshly grated parmesan and shallow-fry it

(Getty/iStock)

For better weeknight chicken, dredge it in flour loaded with freshly grated parmesan and shallow-fry it. The cheese works to create a sort of frico, so you don’t need breadcrumbs for a deeply flavourful crust. While you could make this entirely on the stovetop, you risk overcooking the parmesan, and under or overcooking the meat. Instead, finish it in the oven, which yields a juicy, tender breast and keeps the parmesan from getting too dark. Serve with perfectly ripe beefsteak and cherry tomatoes, jumbled together with salt and herbs and a splash of vinegar to make the tomatoes pop.

By: Sarah Copeland

Serves: 4

Total time: 40 minutes

Ingredients:

680g ripe beefsteak or heirloom tomatoes, cut into wedges (or halved if small)

340g cherry tomatoes, halved

1 tbsp sherry or cider vinegar

1 tsp salt, plus for seasoning

¼ tsp black pepper, plus more for seasoning

170g parmesan

120g flour

2 large eggs, well beaten

4 skinless, boneless chicken breast, halved (about 1½cm thick)

3 tbsp canola or grapeseed oil

2 tbsp thinly sliced basil

¼ cup finely chopped parsley

Method:

1. Toss together tomatoes, vinegar, salt and pepper in a bowl, and set aside. Heat the oven to 220C with a rack in the lowest position.

2. Make the chicken: line a baking tray with parchment paper. Finely grate half the parmesan on a box grater. Grate the remaining half on the larger side of the box grater. Add both to a shallow bowl along with ½ the flour, and whisk together. Put the remaining flour in another shallow bowl, and the beaten egg in another.

3. Season the chicken generously with salt and pepper. Dip the chicken breasts, one at a time, into the flour. Shake off any excess and dip into the eggs, turning to coat evenly. Shake off the excess and dip into the parmesan mixture, pressing to adhere and holding the chicken gently by the ends to keep the coating intact. Transfer to the lined baking trau.

4. Heat 2 tbsp oil in your largest ovenproof pan. When the oil is shimmering, lay the chicken breasts in the pan, in batches if needed. Cook without moving until the coating on the bottom is deeply golden brown and releases easily from the pan, 5 to 6 minutes. Carefully flip the breasts and cook until the other side is just golden on the outside, about 3 minutes more. Transfer the pan to the oven (or transfer the chicken to a separate baking tray if needed for space) and cook until the juices run clear and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken registers 73C, 4 to 6 minutes more, depending on the thickness of each breast.

5. Sprinkle the herbs over the tomatoes, and drizzle with the remaining 1 tbsp oil; serve alongside the chicken.

Spiced grilled halloumi

The play between salty, hot cheese and sweet, juicy tomatoes is what makes this dish sizzle

(Getty/iStock)

The play between salty, hot cheese and sweet, juicy tomatoes is what makes this dish sizzle. Halloumi is a springy Cypriot cheese that bronzes when hit with intense heat, but you must pat it dry before grilling. Pile the singed cheese atop sliced tomatoes, which are seasoned here with salt and olive oil to concentrate their flavour. The salt will also extract water from the tomatoes, creating a light dressing. Finally, for texture, everything is sprinkled with a combination of crushed coriander and cumin seeds, red-pepper flakes and a touch of sugar (you could also use a supermarket-bought or homemade dukkah if you have it on hand). Serve with grilled bread or pita, or embellish with herbs, cucumbers, grilled peppers, lentils, beans or grains.

By: Ali Slagle

Serves: 4

Total time: 20 minutes, plus grill heating

Ingredients:

900g ripe tomatoes (any variety), sliced 1½cm thick

Salt

Extra-virgin olive oil

1 (225-255g) package halloumi, sliced ½-¾cm thick

1 tsp coriander seeds

1 tsp cumin seeds

¼ tsp red-pepper flakes, plus more as needed

¼ tsp granulated or Demerara sugar, plus more as needed

Method:

1. Prepare a charcoal grill for two-zone cooking over medium-high heat by pouring the coals onto one half of the grill. For a gas grill, heat all of the burners to high, then turn off one of the end burners before cooking.

2. While the grill is heating, arrange the tomatoes on a platter with an edge to prevent leaking and season with ½ tsp salt. Drizzle with olive oil. Set aside. Pat halloumi dry and drizzle with olive oil to coat on both sides. Set aside.

3. In a small frying pan over medium-low heat, toast the coriander seeds, cumin seeds and red-pepper flakes, shaking often, until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and smash with the side of your knife until cracked (you can also do this with a mortar and pestle). Transfer to a small bowl, add the sugar, and rub with your fingers to further crush the seeds.

4. When you’re ready to grill, take the halloumi, tomatoes, seeds, tongs and a tightly folded paper towel soaked with olive oil to the grill. Clean the grates with a grill brush, then oil the grates with the paper towel. Grill the cheese over the flame, flipping halfway through, until well browned and it releases easily from the gates, 4 to 6 minutes total (for a gas grill, close the lid between flips, listening and keeping an eye out for flare-ups). If the cheese sticks to the grates, give it another minute on the heat. Transfer the cheese to the tomatoes, then sprinkle with the seeds. Season to taste with more red-pepper flakes, sugar and olive oil.

Tip: Medium-high is 190-230C. You should be able to hold your hand 10-12cm above the grates for 4 to 5 seconds. High is above 230C. You should be able to hold your hand 10-12cm above the grates for 2 to 3 seconds.

© The New York Times